Some Anglo-Saxons came to Britain to fight, but others came peacefully, to find land to farm. The Anglo-Saxons knew Britain was a rich land. Their own lands often flooded, making it difficult to grow enough food. There was not enough land for everyone.
Whole families set off across the North Sea in small boats. Each boatload of people formed a settlement with its own leader. They brought their tools, weapons, belongings and farm animals with them to Britain.
The real King Arthur
After the Roman soldiers left in AD410, Britain no longer had a strong army to defend it. There were battles between Anglo-Saxons and Britons. In AD491, for instance, a fight for the Roman fort at Pevensey in Sussex was won by the Anglo-Saxons, who killed all the Britons in the fort.
Later people told stories of British leaders who fought the invaders. One was Ambrosius Aurelianus (a Roman name). Another was King Arthur. We do not know if there was a real Arthur. Most of the stories about him and his Knights of the Round Table come much later in history. Legend says Arthur won a great battle around AD500, but he could not stop more Anglo-Saxons coming.
Where did the newcomers settle?
Whether they settled peacefully, or drove the Britons from their lands, the Anglo-Saxons took control of most of Britain. However, they never conquered Scotland, Wales or Cornwall. The historian Bede, who lived in the 700s, wrote that Angles settled in East Anglia, the East Midlands and further north in Northumbria. Saxons moved in to Sussex (named after the 'South Saxons'), Essex (East Saxons), Middlesex (Middle Saxons) and Wessex (West Saxons). Jutes settled mainly in Kent, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
How did England get its name?
The Roman Britons spoke Latin or local Celtic languages. The newcomers spoke their own languages, which in time became a language now known as Anglo-Saxon or Old English. The Anglo-Saxons themselves called it 'Englisc'. The country taken over by the new settlers became 'England'.
Some Britons settled down with the newcomers. Others moved west and north, taking their Latin-Celtic culture with them. Place names give clues to where the new 'English' lived. A place-name ending in -ham, for instance, shows it was once a Saxon settlement. Ham in Anglo-Saxon English meant 'village'.